Start@SG: $10m Cocoon to nurture start-ups

Mr Blakey (left), with Mr Klippgen, wants to groom start-up founders into CEOs.
Mr Blakey (left), with Mr Klippgen, wants to groom start-up founders into CEOs.PHOTO: COCOON CAPITAL

$10m Cocoon to nurture start-ups

Experienced angel investors Michael Blakey and William Klippgen have set up a new $10 million seed-venture firm in Singapore called Cocoon Capital.

The company will focus on early-stage investments ranging from $350,000 to $1 million in South-east Asia and India, in sectors such as e-commerce and fintech.

Mr Klippgen is a Singapore-based Norwegian entrepreneur and technology investor.

Mr Blakey has been an early-stage investor in Britain since 2000 and has also invested in a number of Singapore companies.

The pair met as mentors at technology start-up accelerator JFDI Asia in Singapore in 2013.

"We created Cocoon Capital to turn local start-ups into successful global businesses, and founders into CEOs. We will achieve this by providing business support first, then financing - not the other way around," said Mr Blakey.

Cocoon Capital plans to invest in no more than five companies a year, to leave enough time and resources to help founders build businesses.

NTUC unit in IT training tie-up

General Assembly, a training school for skills like coding, marketing and user experience design, has signed a memorandum of understanding with U Associate, a unit of the National Trades Union Congress, to address Singapore's technology and digital skills shortage.

It will develop joint training workshops and engagement sessions to train professionals, managers and executives for technology and digital careers.

Both organisations will also provide help with job placement in start-ups.

Payment firm Senjo invests in Tjaara

Global-payment operator and fintech investment firm Senjo Group has invested US$1.2 million (S$1.7 million) in Singapore start-up Tjaara and extended an additional US$20 million in trade finance.

Tjaara, which means "marketplace" in Arabic, uses a group-buy concept to aggregate demand from companies and wholesalers before placing orders with manufacturers, located mainly in China.

The company negotiates, does quality-control checks from factory to port and acts as an escrow service to manage the buying process.

The service benefits small to medium-sized wholesalers which previously could not obtain lower prices unlocked by economies of scale due to their small orders.

"It is known that Chinese wholesale e-commerce platforms like Alibaba offer lower prices for local purchases, and when non-Chinese IP addresses are detected, the price is typically inflated. This is why Tjaara will always get better pricing as all buying is done locally through our China operations. And by consolidating the orders of small wholesalers, we'll get more bulk discounts," said Tjaara co-founder Fred Then.

Latize's foray Down Under pays off

Singapore big-data company Latize has won a contract with the New South Wales government after opening its first overseas office in Sydney in June.

The company will work with the Department of Industry's Division of Resources and Energy on mine safety and will eventually undertake integration with several other systems.

Chia Yan Min

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 13, 2016, with the headline 'Start@SG'. Print Edition | Subscribe